Why Did My Device Suddenly Stop Working?
It’s a sad but true fact of life that your printer, scanner, or other computer device is most likely to stop working right at the moment you need it the most. Scrambling to discover why your connected peripherals are no longer recognized by Windows XP can increase your stress when you are already under a heavy workload. To keep your homework assignments or work presentations running smoothly, learn the right ways to troubleshoot issues that cause the computer to report a device not working.
Check For Simple Issues
Always start by double checking that a very simple problem isn’t the culprit. For example, try disconnecting and reconnecting any cables between the device and your computer. Many times a USB plug or printer cable is simply loose and unable to properly communicate between the two pieces of equipment. You may even need a new cable if there is physical damage to the exterior. Try connecting the device to another computer to discover if it is the printer or your operating system. If your scanner or camera simply won’t power up at all, it is unlikely that the problem lies with the drivers or software.
Dealing With Common Problems
Once you are sure that the device itself is still functioning properly, you can proceed to discovering the disconnect between the computer system and the peripheral. In many cases, a simple driver issue is the cause. The files are easy to lose, move, accidentally delete, corrupt, or overwrite. Uninstalling something unfamiliar in your computer’s “Add or Remove Programs” window could lead to speakers that no longer emit sound or a flickering black and white monitor. There are a few basic steps to take to find out if you are experiencing Windows XP driver problems.
Start With The Device Manager
As with nearly any task involving Windows XP drivers, your work will begin with the Device Manager. Accessories that worked well at some point in the past may or may not show up in this window. If the device driver was not successfully installed in the first place, you should definitely see warning signs. Open this tool by:
- Click on the Start menu button at the lower right corner of the screen, then click once on Control Panel.
- Double-click on System, then click just once on the Hardware tab. You should now see the Device Manager button, which also needs a click.
- The Device Manager window will display all of the devices currently connected to your computer. If they are installed, an accurate listing should be found under the correct categorization. Devices with detected driver issues will display a bright yellow icon with an exclamation point in the center. Look for the device that is not responding and double click on it.
- If there was an issue detected, the window that appears may have a button labeled “Reinstall Driver” near the bottom. Clicking it will open the Hardware Wizard, which connects you to Windows Update for automatic driver updates.
Replacing Missing Or Corrupted Drivers
Checking the database provided by Microsoft for Windows XP may very well solve your problem. Manual installation is also possible. It may be the better option if you have visited the manufacturer’s website and they offered an updated file to deal with issues with previous driver versions. In other cases, you may need to rollback a driver to a previous version if the newest updates introduces issues.
Manual Device Driver Updates
When you are ready to install the latest and greatest update to the drivers, start with the process listed above. Open the Device Manager through the Systems window, then double-click on the device in question and hit “Reinstall Drivers”. Then:
- Click on “No, not this time” when the Hardware Update Wizard requests a connection to Windows Update.
- Choose the “Install from a list or specific location” option on the next page. Click next.
- Use the first option and the subsequent file location browser to point the wizard to the files you have downloaded. Uncheck the “Search removable media” option unless you have the files loaded on a CD or DVD.
- Hit Next and let the wizard handle the installation process for you.
Rolling Back Drivers And Restoring Your Settings
It is immensely frustrating when your printer or external hard drive was working just fine yesterday, but it won’t respond today. If you just updated or reinstalled the drivers when the problem occurred, try rolling back to a previous version:
- Open the Device Manager with the above instructions. Find the driver you are experiencing issues with and double-click on it.
- Select the Driver tab and click on the “Rollback Driver” button. This will allow the computer to search out the previously installed file and use it once again.
Sometimes the older driver files are simply too corrupted or were accidentally deleted, making them impossible to reinstall. You can also try restoring your system to a previous point if you had Windows XP System Restore Points enabled when the device was working. To give this a shot, try:
- Start the process in the Administrator profile for the system. Open the Start menu, then navigate through the Accessories menu to find the listing entitled System Tools. Click on this, then click on System Restore.
- Selecting the “Restore my computer to an earlier time” option will allow you to bring back deleted system files and restore registry settings that might be interfering with the device.
- Choose a save point from a time when you know the device was working properly. Run through the rest of the menus and allow your system to restart.
- Check to see if it functions properly again on the newly booted system. If not, use the on-screen prompts to reverse the restore point.
It’s unusual that a device will need a full uninstallation and fresh installation to start running again. In most cases, you can use the steps above to solve driver or registry problems in just a few minutes. Be sure to solve any virus infestations or hard drive errors that might be leading to corruption and damage of your driver files.